Environmental Quality Board Approves New Draft Regulations For Drilling

  • Katie Colaneri

The Environmental Quality Board has given the green light to new proposed regulations that would limit the impacts of drilling on public resources, make provisions to deal with abandoned wells, and outline procedures to prevent spills.
The draft regulations are required by Act 13, also known as Pennsylvania’s “impact fee” law, to keep the state laws in step with modern drilling techniques and protect public areas like parks, rivers and historical sites. The Environmental Quality Board’s new rules would require companies to notify state resource agencies where they plan to drill, so agencies can recommend ways mitigate potential impacts.
“Through Gov. Corbett’s leadership, Pennsylvania is proving that economic opportunity does not have to occur at the expense of environmental stewardship,” Acting DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said in a statement.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the state Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board has criticized the proposed regulations.

The advisory board contends that the rules give state agencies like the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources too much authority to shape permit decisions, give protected status to too many species not legally considered threatened or endangered, and create “a burdensome and open-ended” consultation process instead of setting firm criteria to limit — not expand — DEP’s power to place conditions on drilling permits.
“The department’s proposed revisions include numerous new obligations that would increase operational costs and complexity without clear justification or environmental necessity,” the board wrote.

According to the executive summary of the proposed rules, companies may be forced to hire consultants and pay for additional safety measures and record-keeping as a result.
The draft regulations will now be submitted for legal review by the state Attorney General’s office and the Office of General Counsel. Then, the DEP will open the floor for public comment, including six public hearings.
Read the draft regulations here.

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